5:07 p.m. - Even though some of the players who have been circulating into the media room have looked a bit weary due to their 4:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. wake-up regimen, Cal linebacker Zach Follett was his usual, animated self, displaying the high energy level that he brings to every play on the football field.
"I took a lot of advice, I called a lot of former Cal players who have bene here, and they said it's going to be a grind, get your sleep," he said. "I've gotten a lot of sleep, I mapped out my sleeping real methodically so I wouldn't be down and I'd have a pep in my step out here. And I think it's working for me."
Follett is rooming with USC linebacker Clay Matthews while they're in Indianapolis, and so far, he hasn't been disrupting Follett's sleep routine.
"He was actually glad that I wasn't a snorer," the Cal linebacker said. "He said he gets stuck with a snorer every time he goes to one of these things. He said he didn't have to throw any pillows at me."
Follett made logged 23 tackles for a loss and 10.5 sacks for Cal during his senior campaign.
5:05 p.m. - Wake Forest LB Aaron Curry was a popular prospect at the podium this afternoon, as he’s projected to be a top-five selection this April. He was asked by reporters to give his thoughts about potentially playing for the teams selecting in the top-five and Curry had great things to say about every team.
But again the question about playing in a 3-4 defense came up and Curry believes he has the versatility to make an impact no matter what scheme he plays in.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” Curry said. “I have the ability to rush the passer on the outside and I have the strength to play on the inside in a 3-4. I think I can come in instantly and make an impact on anybody’s defense. My versatility as a linebacker will allow me to play in a 3-4, inside or outside; you can’t go wrong [with me].”
The 6-foot-1, 254-pound Curry will go through a complete workout on Monday and with a solid performance during interviews, he has a chance to go as high as No. 3 to the Kansas City Chiefs.
4:15 p.m. - USC LB Brian Cushing is considered to be one of the best 3-4 linebackers in the draft and on Saturday afternoon he addressed that distinction.
“I think I am [one of the best],” Cushing said. “I like to think of myself as a 3-4 or a 4-3 linebacker. I think I’m one of the top linebackers, regardless of the defensive scheme. That’s what I’m hoping to prove while I’m here.”
Cushing will go through a full workout on Monday and is looking forward to the competition.
At 6-foot-3, 243 pounds, Cushing is a physical defender who had the luxury of being surrounded by two highly touted linebackers, Rey Maualuga and Clay Matthews, who are also expected to be drafted in the first round.“They absolutely complimented me; I think we complimented each other,” he said. “We played off each other. It was a great experience having them around me and they all did a great job.”
3:55 p.m. - West Virginia QB Pat White answered questions from the media this afternoon and the main topic was if he believed he could be a quarterback at the next level. White showcased his talents at the Senior Bowl and although there were some forgettable moments during practice, he left Mobile as the game MVP.
“It was a great week,” White said. “The first day was a little sluggish for me, but I was able to work on my drops and I think I got that down. I think I ran the system well and I hope I showed that I could get the ball over those 6-6, 6-7 guys on the offensive line.”
And for the scouts in attendance that believe he could be a QB in the NFL?
“A few teams said that I could play quarterback and a few said that they see me at another position,” he said. “I’m just going to keep working and try to get better everyday.”
Many believe that the only possibility White has to take snaps behind center is in the Wildcat formation, which became popular this past season in the NFL. With the NFL adopting the athletic formation, a player of White’s ability becomes more valuable and it could increase his draft status.
“I think [the Wildcat] gives me a better opportunity to help somebody out,” he said.
White is projected to be a late second, early third round draft pick.
3:15 p.m. - Texas DE/OLB Brian Orakpo had a breakout senior season with 11.5 sacks and 19 TFL. Even though a majority of that production came from the defensive end position, NFL teams that run a 3-4 defense seem to be a realistic fit, as Orakpo projects to be an OLB at the next level.
“I’m versatile, so it really doesn’t matter to me,” Orakpo said, regarding his position at the next level. “I think I will do well in both schemes. I’ve played them [DE and OLB]; I’m not just a guy who can potentially play OLB. I’m receptive to both positions.”
Orakpo measured in this afternoon at 6-foot-3, 263 pounds and will go through a complete workout on Monday.
2:04 p.m. - Penn State defensive end Maurice Evans weighed-in at 6-foot-1, 274 pounds.
"I put on a little weight, put on a little muscle," he said. "I'm usually around 265, so it's not that big of a jump."
Evans, who made 34 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, and was credited with three sacks in 2008, was asked about his drop-off in production in comparison to his sophomore year. In 2007, he was sixth in the nation with 21.5 tackles for a loss and his 12.5 sacks was the eighth-best mark in the country.
"Some people say my production went down, but I don't think it did," Evans said. "Even though I didn't have the same amount of sacks I had my sophomore year, I still was able to contribute in many other ways--make the little things happen so that the bigger plays can happen."
Evans believes he can have an impact as a pass-rusher at the pro level.
"I bring intensity, I bring pressure to the quarterback on every passing down," he said. I'm a playmaker, I make things happen."
12:55 p.m. - Utah DE/OLB Paul Kruger, who declared for the draft as a redshirt sophomore, sighted his age as the main reason why he decided to turn pro.
“The fact that I just turned 23; I’m about the same age as guys that have been in school for five years,” Kruger said. “That played into my decision to come out. It was a tough decision, but one that was understood.”
After being redshirted in 2004, Kruger served an LDS mission for a few years and returned to Utah in 2007, as the starting right defensive end. This past season, Kruger displayed great ability coming off the edge and recorded 7.5 sacks.
Kruger’s attributes make him an ideal fit as a 3-4 OLB, but he has the ability to be a DE in a 4-3. However, with more teams switching to the 3-4 this offseason, he will be an attractive option for teams in need of a versatile defender.“It will be based on where I end up,” he said, in regards to what position he will play at the next level. “I really don’t have a preference. I feel really comfortable standing up rushing the passer, and I also feel comfortable being sturdy down in the trenches with the big boys. Either way, I feel good.”
11:59 a.m. - Missouri DT Evander “Ziggy” Hood stepped up to the podium and explained how he got the nickname, Ziggy.
“I’m half black and half Mexican, so my grandmother on my mother’s side couldn’t pronounce Evander, so she called me Ziggy,” Hood said. “It’s from a cartoon character.”
There’s nothing cartoon-like about Hood’s game, as he amassed 15.5 career sacks at Missouri. Hood is one of the best interior defenders available in the draft and when he was asked how he compares to the other top DTs, B.J. Raji (Boston College) and Peria Jerry (Ole Miss), Hood said, “B.J. and Peria do a good job. There’s something’s that they do better than me, and I’d like to accomplish some of the things that they do. I’m going to do my best and try to look good for myself. They’re going to do what they can do and I’m just going to try to improve my status.Hood is currently the third ranked DT in Scout.com’s Draft Rankings and is projected to be a second round selection.
10:56 a.m. - Cincinnati DE/OLB Connor Barwin talked with the media this morning and said that he’s here as a defensive end. Barwin weighed in this morning at 6-foot-3, 256 pounds and even though he has experience playing both ways at the collegiate level, most teams view him as a defensive player.
“The one thing that comes up a lot is that most teams see me as a defensive player,” Barwin said. “But, there are a few teams that view me as a tight end. The teams that view me as a defensive player, they all seem to talk about me being intriguing in the redzone as a tight end. I think I helped myself a little at the Senior Bowl playing at tight end and I showed them I’m a legitimate option on offense.”Barwin figures to be a prospect many 3-4 teams will likely take a look at as an OLB, because of his athleticism and versatility. The transition to becoming a fulltime linebacker shouldn’t be difficult for a player who’s used to being moved around.
9:58 a.m. - On a day when the defensive linemen and linebackers are expected to talk to the media, the first player to take the podium this morning was Northwestern RB Tyrell Sutton. The offensive skill players spoke to the media yesterday, but Sutton wasn’t available. Sutton measured in at 5-foot-8, 211 pounds and figures to be a complimentary back in the NFL.
“I’ll do anything a team wants me to do,” Sutton said.
Sutton’s had some durability issues during his career and is currently nursing a wrist injury. The doctors are amazed by the progression he’s making with the wrist, but Sutton said that he wouldn’t bench this weekend.
Sutton is an elusive, shifty ballcarrier, who possesses a quick first step. He runs low to the ground with great balance and hides behind the trees waiting for a crease to open. He sets up defenders well, jukes them out of their shoes and has the speed to pick up positive yards. He’s deceptively strong and runs well between the tackles. He flashes elite hands and is a factor in the passing game.
“I believe that the team that gets me will benefit from my versatility,” he said. And the fact that I’m a team-oriented and very competitive guy.”
Sutton has a lot of value as a fourth – fifth round pick.
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A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.